Guerilla Gardening and Empreintes Vertes at Fort Superposition

Guerilla Gardening and Empreintes Vertes at Fort Superposition

Only a few more weeks before setting off to storm Fort Superposition for the last time! A total of fifty visual artists (street-art and more) who animate the enclosure of the Fort Superposition one last time before its doors close. Among these players, we are pleased to welcome Empreintes Vertes since November 2019. This Lyon association has at the heart of its approach the re-appropriation and revegetation of public spaces divested by the city and the citizen. She also works with private individuals. This desire is part of a movement still unknown to the public, guerilla gardening in accordance with recycling.

Meeting with Géraldine from the Empreintes Vertes association, a fervent practitioner of this movement, whom you can find during the European Heritage Days 2020 at the Fort Superposition.

Create local biodiversity in the city

Small step back to better understand the origin of this movement! It was in the 70s in New York that this term appeared following an action led by Liz Christy. She created a shared garden in an abandoned place. This peaceful revolution at the time led several actors such as associations, or citizens, to participate in the beautification of cities, to create green and more socially responsible initiatives.

Empreintes vertes, les origines

Today and for the past ten years or so, the city of Lyon has been setting up street gardens and shared green spaces, in order to bring together citizens around participatory actions and to address questions about the protection of the biodiversity. Actions which tend to multiply in particular through committed associations, such as Empreintes Vertes.

The reflection of greening in the city goes hand in hand with well-being – Meeting with Géraldine d’Empreintes Vertes

What is your representation of guerilla gardening?

Guerrilla gardening naturally consists of taking care of living spaces and species. The very action of this movement is to be in touch with “the vegetable”, how to cultivate it in the city. To tell the truth, there is nothing new in this practice, it has been an issue for years, but for some it is quite the beginning. For me, this is one of my main missions as a recycling citizen on the planet. A striking example, that of my former textile workshop “La fée bidule et le lutin malin” then “G: 1 idée!” in which I recycled the fabrics.

The little story of Geraldine
Founder and president of the Empreintes Vertes association
Canvas by @ littlelilou01

How did you hear about guerilla gardening? 

Since my childhood, I have lived between the city and the countryside. I have always cultivated a piece of land, it is obvious for me to sow and revegetate where I go outside or inside.

What actions do you take around this practice?

I invest the urban space by carefully sowing seed bombs or polenizing flowers, during my urban or rural walks.

When I took over the canisite in the Croix Rousse district, certain traders, residents or even municipal agents participated in their own way by donating pallets, plants or cuttings.

“In the end, guerilla gardening is like being a gardener but mixing up expressions.”

Géraldine, Founder and President of Empreintes Vertes association

When did you create your association in Lyon? 

I have created Empreintes Vertes since March 2019. Previously, I volunteered for associations. But I was also part of the movement, simply as a citizen. I have a deep respect for the simple, nature, the ecology of living things and the bartering of plants and seeds.

To go further, other actions are to be discovered with The incredible shared edibles, the allotment gardens, Compost’elles.

How do you think this movement responds to ecological issues? 

think guerilla gardening has an impact on the responsibility of living together, which brings people together. As a result, the challenge of greening in the city is also to reduce the heat in our urban lives. Nature, whether it is actually or artistically represented, remains a more than natural human need. The reflection of revegetation in the city goes hand in hand with well-being. An art of living, of slowing down, of breathing.

What message do you want to convey through this practice? 

It is by seeing practitioners active in the middle of the day that people understand the value of revegetation, food, bio-waste, the impact of consumption. We have little or no need for new for revegetation like the rest. I seek to sensitize the individual so that he questions himself about his position, his attitude, his ideas within his environment.

By mixing different street arts (collaborations with street-artists – like @toki_art, @ludodsp, @alwinenogier, @mashamagosia – local elected officials, citizens, traders for recycling (vegetable peels, pallets, unsold plants among others, …), this brings a dynamic of respect for the neighborhood and the green, and tones of different colors depending on the neighborhood.

Installation de Toki pour l'association Empreintes vertes (Lyon)
Installation of the duo “Toki” in the garden of the Fort – © Superposition

I am a committed citizen, part of the “ambassadors” to act in Lyon and its surroundings.

Géraldine, Founder and President of Green Footprints association

How do guerilla gardening and urban art make sense together?

What makes sense is the fact of investing urban space in the colors of citizens, neighborhoods, regions, countries. Street gardening creates sharing open to all and federates around a project, public space, etc. For example, when I started work on a canisite at Place Bellevue at the Croix Rousse. Some residents spontaneously joined me to embellish it.

What were your actions within the Fort Superposition in Croix-Rousse?

I wanted to reinvest this wasteland for which Superposition invited me to develop my know-how. Working in an artist residency is an added value. By observing them, it makes me want to evolve, to see how each one works.
The experience was positive, I was able to create links with everyone very quickly in this privileged setting.
I worked in duo with @zapirel on the development and development of urban design with some artists from the Fort such as @carinefigueras, @yandygraffer, @lilitotas, @instayann____, …

I was able to feed on the synergy of the place and human exchanges.

Installation de Yandy Graffer pour l'association empreintes vertes
Installation de Yandy Graffer dans le jardin du Fort – © Superposition

Un dernier mot ?

Installation of Yandy Graffer in the garden of the Fort – © Superposition

Namasté to : Orbiane, Camille, Maïlys, Marie, Cléo, Lou…

To follow Geraldine’s next projects, find her on Facebook, Instagram and on her website!